Ed Thicksten, 67, a lifelong resident of Alma, has announced his candidacy for mayor of Alma.

As a full-time mayor, Thicksten said he plans to set aside one day each week for any citizen or community group to come to City Hall and share their concerns and dreams. He also intends to form a coalition to create a vision for Alma’s future.

"Up with Alma" is the theme of Thicksten’s campaign.

He said he pledges to be a full-time mayor with a transparent administration. Thicksten said he wants to work toward creating an Alma Industrial Park and a technology/business center with the goal of creating job opportunities that will provide children with employment in their hometown.

Thicksten said he is excited about the prospect of completing Interstate 49, noting that Alma would become the location of one of the busiest interstate highway intersections in this part of the country.

"With proper planning this can be an economic boost to Alma and the region," Thicksten said.

He said he also wants to continue to expand the Alma City Park, working with the staff and volunteers to expand recreational opportunities.

Thicksten represented Alma and Crawford County for 24 years in the Arkansas General Assembly, completing his service in 1999. During his tenure, one of his focuses was equalizing funding for education.

Thicksten also was instrumental in promoting Westark Community College, now University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, to become a four-year university. Another of his initiatives in the Arkansas General Assembly was sponsoring victim’s rights legislation, which became a national model.

Thicksten was one of the leading legislators in providing funds for building Interstate 540, now I-49, and currently serves on the "build the bridge" campaign to complete I-49. He also is serving as chairman of Wayfinders, a program whose goal is to build cooperative working relationships for projects in the River Valley.

After leaving the legislature, Thicksten started an education consulting firm and worked 14 years as special projects director for the California State University, Long Beach Foundation.

Thicksten has a long history of community involvement. He served 18 years on the Crawford County Farm Bureau board, has been a long-time supporter of Stepping Stone School, is a former member of the Crawford Memorial Hospital board, is a past-president of the Alma Lions Club and the Crawford County Fair Board, and currently serves as a volunteer at the Alma Community Outreach Center.

After Westark College became a four-year university, Thicksten was the first person named as a distinguished alumni. He also has been recognized as a distinguished alumni by the Alma School District. Because of his contributions to education, the Crawford County Adult Education Center was named in his honor.

Thicksten is married to the former Sandra Futral, a retired teacher with the Alma School District. They have two children, Regina Thicksten, an Army sergeant who served in Afghanistan and is now completing her education, and Chris Thicksten of Bentonville, who is married to the former Mary Jo Wilmot. Chris and Mary Jo have a daughter, Mary Elizabeth.

Thicksten is the son of Lorene Thicksten of Alma and the late Dr. Jack Thicksten.

He is president of Thicksten Enterprises, which includes the Alma Dry Cleaners and Thicksten Farms. Thicksten is a 60-year member of the Alma United Methodist Church and is past board chairman. He has served the past two years as president of the Alma Rotary Club and is a member of the Alma Area Chamber of Commerce.

Thicksten said, "I feel that my past experiences will be an asset to me as mayor. I look forward to visiting with the citizens of Alma and sharing my vision. I ask for your vote on Nov. 4."